Your “Own” Person
Something I’ve noticed about Americans that I don’t notice as often with South Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans, etc. is the idea of being a “self-made” person to “prove something to” their family. I was walking through the lobby of LSU’s union theater and overheard a young man talking to what I think was his therapist about how he didn’t want to ride the coattails of his father.
Here’s the problem. Your parents shouldn’t expect you to do everything on your own. If you failed, they failed in nature and nurture. They’re your genetics and your role models. You also had no choice to be born. They chose to bring you into this world. They knew that whatever happened to you that you were their child and their responsibility. If your parents expect you to “earn” their respect, they’re jerks who don’t know how to raise kids. They are the selfish assholes who brought a person into the world only to expect that person to do things that please them.
As for the young man, I feel like much of my generation is trapped in the culture of the individual. Our society praises self made success stories in music, athletics, arts, business, etc. There’s this odd resentment of families with success. It may be that American identity is tied up with the idea of independence from ruling families and monarchy, but it’s 2012 and not 1776.
In this economy, with our country still at war… who do we turn to when the times are bad? Our families and our closest friends. I have made a great deal of great friends through the years, but that super strong kinship comes from spending time with your friends’ families.
If you look at strong immigrant communities in the United States, you see that pride people take in carrying on the family business. In Asian cultures, you see a lot of emphasis on the family name and making the family proud. That pride doesn’t necessarily come from making it on your own. That pride often comes from succeeding along with your family or with your family’s help. They take pride in helping you succeed.
I’m guilty of prideful individual behavior. I’m always out to prove something to my family and friends. Yet the reality is… I’m a mass of cells with generally bad taste… if I’m separated from all the connections I have made. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to do something different, but if your life goal is to prove you can do something for yourself… in order to please someone else… your priorities are all wrong. You didn’t choose to be born. Someone else brought you in.